Deanna’s Hysterectomy Story
Type of Hysterectomy: LAVH with Bilateral Salpingo (kept both ovaries)
Age at surgery: 40
There were several reasons why I decided to have a hysterectomy, but if I would were to pick the one reason I went for it, no questions asked was when “those cells you do not want” appeared in a uterine biopsy. Initially, I went in to see my doctor for treatment for my uncomfortably heavy (for me periods). Each month, it seemed, my period got worse and worse. It was becoming a problem, especially for my husband and I. It felt like I was either on my period or it was just about to start again. If we were lucky, we had a week and a half of blood free intimacy time.
Additional test results showed a subserosal fibroid on my uterus. Also, I was diagnosed with menorrhagia. Initially, the treatment I was looking in to was birth control, to handle the heavy flow. Since I was 19 years old, I have been on one form of birth control or another. Every two years or so, my body would start to reject my current form of birth control and I would have to change to something new. The longest form of birth control I was able to use was the Nuva Ring. But that too, was rejected by my body, and rather viciously. I developed severe migraines. The entire vaginal cavity became swollen, to the point the ring would be forced out of my vaginal cavity. And putting in tampons or event the Nuva Ring was painful. So I stopped using the Nuva Ring, and let my body return to its pre-birth control pill self.
After that, each month, my period got worse and worse. The PMS, also became really bad. Cramps would put me out of commission for a short time, until they passed (or the painkillers kicked in).
Once my doctor decided that the best option for me would be to have a hysterectomy, I did not even bother getting a second opinion. I knew that the only way, I could get my life back, would be to have my uterus, my cervix, and my tubes removed. Additionally, I knew that I would never regret it. I never wanted to be a mother, so there would be no sense of loss.
In the early hours of October 29, my husband and I made our way to the hospital where I was to have my hysterectomy performed. We got up at 4:30, took a shower, and packed any extra items we felt we might need. The procedure was to be an outpatient procedure. However, thanks to the HysterSisters site, I knew I should pack some clothes, toiletries, etc – just in case. Good thing I did. My outpatient trip turned in to two nights and three days. I am getting ahead of myself.
We arrived at 6 AM, checked in, and patiently waited for the moment when I would be wheeled away in to the surgical ward. We did not have to wait long.
Originally, my surgery was scheduled for 7:30 AM, but it was pushed up to 7:00 AM. No worries, the sooner I go in, the sooner it is done.
The nurses were very friendly and helpful. I was just about to go full-speed ahead on my period, so I was given a super absorbent pad, along with a pair of mesh panties. At this time, I was also set up with the tubing for my IV.
We waited for about 15 minutes and then it was time to go. I said good bye to my husband, and I was wheeled in to the surgical ward. This was the point where I met the anesthesiologist for the first time. It was also when I finally saw my doctor. I was given general anesthesia, and within minutes, I was out. The last thing I remember is being wheeled around a corner.
When I awoke, I was back in the same spot I was first wheeled in to the surgical ward. The grogginess wore off quickly. When the nurse asked me how I felt, I replied, “I feel great! Now, can we remove this catheter?”
She removed it, I felt even better, and I enjoyed a couple of ice chips. My doctor came over to tell me that the surgery went better than expected. I lost very little blood and everything came out without any issues. And, both ovaries looked great. Time to move me to my recovery room. It was approximately 9:30 AM.
My room was located in the maternity ward, at at the far end. They normally place the woman who have hysterectomies in that ward, but down the hall, away from the new mothers. The nurses and staff promised that it would be quiet and I would not have to worry about any new ones in adjacent rooms (it was like a plot point in a movie – the moment they said it, you know what would be happening).
Lunch arrived, and I ate almost all of it. I enjoyed a few more ice chips, small sips of water and then made the first trip to the restroom. I remember the strange pulling sensation in my belly area. At this point, it was not so much pain, as it was pulling. Gravity was pulling downward and I could feel it.
We took a trip down the hall, to see how far I could walk. I made it about 30 feet or so, before the discomfort started to build. We made our way back to the room and got me back in bed. Around 12:30, I started to feel more pain, so I had the nurse give me a Norco. 1 PM, my husband and I decided to give another walk a try, first to the restroom, then out. When I sat at the edge of the bed, I felt more pain than earlier. Standing up elicited an excruciating pain along my abdomen, like I was being torn apart. I became extremely nauseous and lightheaded. I could not stand any longer and I sat back down on the bed.
We called the nurse. When she checked on me, we found that my abdomen had become very swollen and tender. Hoping that it was just gas (I had yet to pass any at this point), the nurse supplied me with a gas reliever. This is where things started to become fuzzy for me. I was in and out of consciousness for the remainder of the afternoon. I did not eat dinner, I could not even look at it. I had a hard time taking in liquids.
The rest of the evening, I remained in bed, sleeping off and on. They continued to feed me saline via my IV. Around 1 AM, the nurse came in and we decided to try to use the restroom. I was able to get up this time, I made it to the restroom, and sat down. The next thing I remember is opening my eyes to the sight of 6 nurses, a wheelchair and a smelling stick in front of my face. Apparently, I slumped over while using the restroom and I was unresponsive for a minute or so. With their help, I was placed in to the wheelchair and brought back to my bed. My poor husband look terrified.
At this time, I still have no idea what happened. It took me roughly two hours to calm my husband down. I did what I could to remain upbeat. I did not like seeing him so terrified. The rest of the night, I was in and out. My nurse came in every hour to check my vitals. My blood pressure was low, and the tenderness in my belly was not going away.
Around 6 AM, Thursday morning, my nurse decided it was time to try using the restroom. This time, I did not make it off the bed. Upon sitting up, I immediately blacked out, but for a much shorter time. I was confined to the bed from that point forward, or at least until they could figure out what was wrong.
My doctor came in, tested out my abdomen, and suggested that I might have a hematoma. She also ordered a blood panel to see what my blood count was. The results from the blood count showed my hemoglobin count was 4.8. They immediately ordered 2 CCs of blood for me. I was extremely dehydrated, I had very little liquids in my (besides the saline) and the last thing I ate was lunch, the day before.
While I was getting the blood transfusion, some other nurses came in and performed an ultrasound on my abdomen. The results showed I did, in fact, have a hematoma, a rather large one. I agreed that it needed to be removed and signed off on a second surgery to do so.
Still no liquids or food at this point.
4:30 PM rolled around and I was back in the surgery unit to have the second procedure done. My doctor and I chatted for a while as we waited for my new anesthesiologists to arrive. She arrived and I took a nap.
When I awoke, I felt amazing! All the abdominal pressure and pain I was feeling for the past 24 hours was gone! Of course, there was one discomfort I was feeling – the catheter. I asked my nurse to remove it, but she said she needed clearance. As for the hematoma? My doctor removed 1.5 liters of blood! So that was where all that blood went that I had not lost during my hysterectomy.
Finally, I was returned to my room, I kissed my husband and told him how much better I felt. All the pain was gone. The catheter was finally removed and I finally got to eat. Turkey and mashed potatoes never tasted so good. I shared it with my husband.
After an hour or so, it was time to get up to try using the restroom. No problems. No pain. No blacking out. I had another blood panel done. My hemoglobin count was now up to 10.2. Progress. We also decided that I should stay one more night so they could continue to check up on my progress.
During the night, we listened to the little baby in the next room over. It was a busy two nights for the maternity ward and they ran out of rooms where they normally keep all the new mothers. The nurses continued to apologize when ever they would come in to my room to take my vitals (every two hours now). It did not bother me (or my husband) at all. As I mentioned earlier, motherhood was never my calling. Also, I was really tired, as to be expected.
The next morning, I had my blood panel done again. My hemoglobin count was back down. This time it was 4.8. We were concerned, to say the least. I felt a lot better, but why was my count so slow? My doctor decided to give me another 2 CCs of blood. Fine with me – if it meant I could go home sooner, then make it so.
After to second transfusion finished, I got to eat more food (more yummy turkey and mashed potatoes), and we decided it was time to tour the ward. Aside from the slightly weird awareness of gravity, I felt grate. We walked around the ward, twice. I only went back because I did not want to over do it.
Back in the room, I was getting up to use the restroom without any assistance. More blood work was done and I got the OK that my hemoglobin count was up to a safer level of 9.8. The discharge was ordered and I got to pack up and head home.
Once I reached the recovery process, I wanted to make sure that I did not do anything that would disrupt the process. I wanted to heal quickly and without any complications. I made sure to drink plenty of water, liquids in general. I avoided having any wine until after I was done taking the heavy painkillers.
Because of the complications with the hematoma, as well as because of the low hemoglobin count, I had to take a heavy dose of iron and folic acid. As we all know, iron tends to cause complications with successful bowel movements. The first movement took two days to come out. I was experiencing severe cramping and what felt like a very hard rock, that did not want to come out. There were moments when the cramping was so severe, I found myself on the ground, in a fetal position, waiting for the pain to subside. After that, it became much easier. The cramping finally subsided when I stopped taking the iron.
My greatest challenge was to not overdo it. I tend to be very independent and I has asking for help. Having to rely on my husband the first few weeks was very hard. I think that was the only time, that I feel I really struggled. I was very lucky to have such an easy recovery.
My first post-surgery appointment with was doctor was four weeks after the surgery. She was impressed with how well I was doing and allowed me to return to normal activities, but with a warning to make sure I do only what I felt I could do. The best part was finding out the the biopsies showed benign results.
It was during my 6 week appt, that I got the full clear to return to normal activities, with exception to sexual activity. My husband and I both agreed we would wait until the 8 week mark, at the earliest.
My health and overall quality of life has improved immensely. Gone is being overly emotional, no fear having accidents, no intense cramping – and yes, my sex life has improved a lot. I count my blessings every day that I was able to have a hysterectomy. I look back at all the trouble I have had over the years and I think how fortunate I was to be able to finally fix and make all those problems go away. It was a brief amount of additional discomfort I feel was worth it, even the BM-related cramping.
My perspective on this is a little different that most women. I never wanted children. My advice would be directed towards women who are find themselves in a similar situation as mine: a woman who had to endure complications for something she does not want to have in the first place. I am trying to find an gentle way of expressing it, but I cannot. I never wanted my period. And having the problems that I did made me much more compelled to have something done that was more permanent than birth control. The birth control was a band-aid. When the opportunity to have an hysterectomy finally appeared, I did not give it a second thought. But that is me.
For others, I feel that each woman must think about how this will effect their lives. It is a very permanent solution. It is not something you can decided to do on a whim, and then decide later that you want to reverse it. You have to decide on whether or not the potential risks are worth it versus the continued complications and fears you now have each month.